In this article, Priyanshi Pandey discusses Screw ups in CLAT since 2009.

  • Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) was started in the year 2008 and since then every year this examination takes place. It is an integrated test for admission to 19 National Law Universities (NLU) in India, being conducted on a rotational basis by  NLUs in order of their establishment.
  • Before CLAT, autonomous law schools held their own separate entrance tests, requiring the candidates to appear separately for each of these tests putting an unreasonable burden on applicants.
  • The scheduled date of these tests sometimes overlapped with other entrance tests, that caused students to miss tests and lose opportunities.
  • Thus, in 2006, each national law school faced a legal challenge for running its own admission test. Hence the introduction of CLAT took place in the year 2008, under the supervision of then The Chief Justice of India (CJI) K.G. Balakrishnan.
  • He directed the Union of India to consult with the National Law Universities to conduct a common entrance test.

Like many other competitive exams, CLAT also has its own share of flaws which resulted in many controversies and Public Interest Litigations (PIL) with each passing year.

Chronological Journey of glitches in CLAT

CLAT, 2009

The convenor of the exam was Nalsar University of Law, Hyderabad, who was supposed to conduct it on scheduled day but the exam got postponed after a suspected leak of question papers when authorities found locked steel boxes with the test material tampered while it was in transit. Initially, CLAT used to be a paper-pen based exam, conducted in offline mode, so tampering with the material could be the possibility so the university had to reschedule.

Then the next year came CLAT, 2010. It was conducted by National Law Institute University, Bhopal. And unlike the previous year, it was free from any bugs or difficulties and the appearing students were satisfied with the applications and procedures of CLAT.

CLAT, 2011

Each year the convening college has to revitalize the model anew and figure out how to be at par to hold a national level competitive exam. Some gets successful in doing so whereas some just face a disastrous fall down.  In the year 2011, the expectations were the same from the convenor, National Law University, Jodhpur to do justice with the examination, but when the candidates appeared for it, they faced few problems like –

  1. The question paper was lengthy in comparison to the time limit provided of two hours.
  2. Twelve questions of various section had underlined answers due to the negligence of the organizers. This could have been easily avoided by making the question paper foolproof.

CLAT, 2012

As if CLAT, 2011 wasn’t sufficient enough, 2012 also touched the par limit of glitches in CLAT. It was conducted by National Law University, Jodhpur. The exam was marred by several controversies such as –

  1. Candidates alleged that the several questions were set out of syllabus and the pattern was entirely changed than the pre-declared pattern.
  2. The official committee also admitted 2 errors in the question-answer key as a result of petitions being filed by the aggrieved students in different High Courts.
  3. The first allotment list was also withdrawn from the website the very next day after it was put up due to the errors it contained regarding ranks. Few days later, fresh allotment list was put up back to the website.

CLAT, 2013

This year yet again the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) got involved in controversy for discrepancies in the allotment of candidates. Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur (HNLU) had received a notice by Justice K. Surendra Mohan, Kerala High Court for a writ petition filed by four candidates for a stay of the allotment process, and rectification of the discrepancies. In the allotment list, candidates have been wrongly allotted Chanakya National Law University (CNLU), Patna instead of their preferred University that was National University of Advanced Legal Studies (NUALS), Cochin and this was happened despite them having a higher rank to join NUALS

CLAT, 2014

This year the exam was conducted by Gujarat National Law University (GNLU). Soon after the results were declared, the list was withdrawn immediately from the website due to technical discrepancies. A clarification had been given on the CLAT website regarding withdrawal of the list stating that there was a mismatch of identification between the barcode sticker on the front page and candidate’s sticker on the back page in a few cases, the GNLU decided to relook over all the OMR answer sheets manually, which were approximately 32,000. This resulted in petitions being filed seeking a stay to restrain the CLAT Committee from conducting the counseling of CLAT based on the revised results and demanding a fresh examination.

CLAT, 2015

CLAT went online in the year 2015 and the convenor of CLAT, 2015, RMLNLU Lucknow strived to make the exam “problem free, controversy free, litigation-free” but like the rest of the years, candidates faced various problems such as –

  1. The question paper contained typographical mistakes which could have been easily avoided by the organizers.
  2. The authority scrapped 2 questions completely due to the ambiguity it contained.
  3. 6 questions had wrong answers in the model answer key released by the committee which clearly demonstrates that the expert committee did not vet the question paper and answer key at all.
  4. Paper was mismatched with the actual standard as prescribed in the official website, few questions were taken from old cat papers.
  5. Wrong allocation list: the software used by CLAT had some serious software glitch. Likewise in 2013, many students who had scored enough marks to secure a place in the merit list of their most preferred NLUs, were allotted the less preferred ones.

CLAT, 2016

Last year CLAT, 2015 saw an unrivalled mess. It was so bad that an article dubbed it as Clataclysm. CLAT, 2016, was conducted by RGNUL, Patiala and despite their huge efforts to curb the prevailing errors in CLAT, the candidates faced various problems –

  1. Technical error: A day after opening of the application forms, it went unavailable for 24 hours which created unrest in students.
  2. The committee provided notice in the official website for changing an answer in the model answer key due to the typographical error in the question.
  3. 1 question got cancelled completely by the authority and the performance was evaluated out of 199 questions rather than 200.
  4. After results were declared, the authority postponed the allotment list of candidates due to uncertain reasons.

CLAT, 2017

And just like earlier years, CLAT 2017 also simply failed to deliver better results. CLAT 2017 had many errors. What should have been a test of one’s intellectual capabilities was sadly reduced to a test of one’s luck. Students wasted their time in identifying ambiguous questions and taking a call on whether to answer them or not. The convenor CNLU, Patna faced a writ petition in Delhi high court for its negligent behaviour in framing the question paper. Following were the defects found –

  1. 4 erroneous questions were scrapped by the committee after evaluation.
  2. The committee admitted 3 wrong answers that were provided in the official answer key.
  3. The syllabus states that “General knowledge will be tested on the general awareness including static general knowledge”, but no questions were asked based on static general knowledge in the paper.
  4. Adding more to these, 1 question in the mathematics section was found completely out of syllabus and was certainly not within the elementary mathematics taught up to the 10th standard (as was prescribed in the syllabus).
  5. Apart from the errors in question paper, there were technical glitches also faced by candidates such as the test screen blurring out or allegedly not capturing all responses marked by candidates in many cases.
  6. Furthermore, Only two days were granted to the candidates for reviewing and thoroughly analysing the paper to file objections, in case any. This short time period wasn’t sufficient enough for the students.

CLAT, 2018

Right from its inception, CLAT has faced various litigations because of the flaws in conducting the exam. CLAT, 2018 which was conducted by NUALS, Kochi was undoubtedly the worst of the lot. Various candidates moved to the Supreme Court for re-examination and many pleas were filed regarding the enquiry into the affairs of CLAT.  

Following are the ruins of CLAT, 2018

  1. Nearly 14 centres faced technical glitches. Some computers shutdown automatically which created panic amongst the students but immediately candidates were given the time, they had lost.
  2. At some places, the test started with blank screens yet the timer was running, and to overcome this situation, candidates were told to restart their computers in order to resume the test which took nearly ten minutes of their test timer.
  3. The computers kept hanging in between the exam meanwhile the test timers continued to run.
  4. Some centres faced the problem of power cut during the examination.
  5. Biometric Verifications were slow.
  6. There were discrepancies in the test time allotted to candidates due to technical glitches.
  7. Infrastructural deficiencies were also a part of the problem as there was miscommunication regarding centre names or locations, mis allotment of seats and lack of proper ventilation.
  8. At some places, pen and paper were not provided as required and no practice test was conducted as the centres were running late.
  9. In some cases, mouses were not working properly which resulted in sometimes skipping questions and at times not saving answers.

The whole issue pertaining to CLAT deserves a fresh judicial reconsideration to look into the issue. A judicial notice of successive failure of CLAT needs to be taken notice of. If the issues are let as it is, future aspirants will keep on suffering year after year. The calamitous of CLAT 2018 must stop this year and must not be carried forward. A very famous quote states that justice must not only be done but also seem to have been done. Hopefully, justice will prevail.


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